Tag Archives: poem

The Bishop of State Street

The Bishop of State Street has seen more things than you and me
His hard dark eyes are barely contained in their bony sockets
Beads of sweat the size of a baby’s fist get caught in the folds of his nose
And in the deep dark dimples that crease the sides of his face
He keeps his head on a swivel because he doesn’t like surprises

The State Street crowd is changing too quickly and the old ghosts are gone
Younger – harder – faster people push by him but they don’t see him anymore
The rhythm of the change and the rhythm of the night remind him of the trains
The rhythms remind him of the trains that brought him up here for a better life
The rhythms remind him of beat of his mother’s heart when she held him home safe

Advertisements

The Old Post Office; Door County; October 2017

It was the faded wall paper that brought him back to me
It was the cheery cherry wall paper that brought me back to him
It was that first glance thought the pristine picture window of the old post office
That brought me back to the man I aspired to be
We ended up there on accident – as was our wont back then
I ended up here today by accident – as is my wont these days
I don’t know if I have lived up to what he expected of me
I do know I still have time to navigate the course and make him proud of me

In Pittsburgh

We’re driving southbound on Route 51 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
I’m feeling nostalgic for memories of things that never actually happened
I don’t know this place – I’ve never been here before – not on this road anyway
But it is October and the world spinning by us in a Hallmark autumn color chart
It is raining – more a drizzle – and with the window down we can smell the earth
We feel welcome enveloped in this new view of this old and beautiful city
My melancholy is palpable – it hangs there in the car between us – but we press on
We’re driving southbound on Route 51 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

When Hope Left Town

The trees are mostly bare now – the branches reach up to the cold gray sky
They stretch like the fingers of a drowning man in his last grasp with breath

The cold moist wind forces its way up the back of your flimsy regulation work coat
You wrap yourself around yourself – but the cold is an unforgiving master

Hope left town on Wednesday morning on a slow train heading far away from here
Hope left town on Wednesday morning breaking the hearts of the people who need it most

The children on the platform wave weakly as the train pulls away – they cry out loud
Their hearts are no longer their own as slivers fall away and down between the railroad ties

There is a storm coming – a purple electric storm will soon hover over all of our heads
The strong will survive – the lesser of us – not as much – but we don’t have any choice

Hope left town Wednesday morning and we did nothing to stop it on its way
Hope left town Wednesday morning – now it is up to us to protect each other from the storm

Three Drops of Claret

Three drops of claret stand out against the faded grey wood
The aged and weathered pole supports the buzzing electrical lines

The drops could be roses
The drops could be blood
This is the Trail of Tears
The saddest place on earth

This is Highway 51 south in Clinton, Kentucky
This is Washington Street in Clinton, Kentucky

The three drops of claret on the weathered old pole
Serve to remind me of one important idea
History is written by those who survive it

1974: Revisited

On the crowded bus in the inky darkness
On the wings of a child’s naïve utterance
You get dropped back into 1974
A chubby kid in a tattered parka
Crunching through the new fallen snow
Your footprints tell the story from the back door
Through all of the yards ending at the railroad tracks
No one else from your neighborhood walks in this weather
You clutch your brown paper Jewel gym bag in your frozen fingers

Your basketball shorts are hand me downs
They were once your mother’s dance shorts
No one will ever know – that is your prayer anyway
The kids are more distracted by your cracked cardboard shoes
The school shoes pinch your feet and scuff the floor

The low-slung building overflows with familiar sounds
New gym shoes squeak on the highly polished floor
Bouncing balls beat uneven rhythm in their own time
Chuck Taylor rules the day – that big blue star glares at you
That big blue star threatens to remind you who you are
And the steamy locker room offers no solace – no comfort

You are not one of them – not in 1974 and not now
You are not one of them – not in this bus and not in this world

The siren piercing the night drags you back to 79th and Vincennes
Your little house on the quiet street is a hand me down
It was once your mother’s home
They all know – they all know

You finally get close to figuring out who you are now
You are you mother’s son and this is where you belong

Slippers in the Snow

She wears slippers in the snow
Her ankles are raw and red and angry
Her smile fades as she puffs out thin steam
Across the frozen air between them

She wears slippers in the snow
Grey slush as cruel as her childhood
She remains defiant of the weather
The weather remains indifferent to her

And her slippers in the snow